What are Common Causes of Night Sweats and Chills?

N. Madison
N. Madison

There are many things that are capable of causing night sweats and chills. Among them are fevers, which often occur as a symptom of a bacterial or viral infection. Often, however, a person will also sweat at night and develops chills in response to the hormonal changes that take place during menopause or pregnancy, or following childbirth. Likewise, a person may sometimes experience night sweats and chills because he has cancer or a disorder that affects the nerves of his body. Additionally, certain medications are capable of producing these symptoms.

Pregnant women may experience night sweats and chills.
Pregnant women may experience night sweats and chills.

In most cases, the presence of night sweats and chills is no real cause for alarm. In many cases, they are simply unpleasant symptoms of some type of infection. For example, a person may experience these symptoms when he has a viral infection, such as the flu or pneumonia; some people may also experience them when they have a common cold. An individual who has a bacterial case of pneumonia may also develop chills and night sweats, and a fungal infection that affects the lungs may cause them as well. It is important to note that, though these symptoms may not be dangerous, a person may need treatment for the conditions that cause them.

Night sweats and chills may be side effects of certain medications.
Night sweats and chills may be side effects of certain medications.

In some cases, night sweats and chills are not caused by infection but are instead the result of hormonal changes. Hormonal fluctuations common during pregnancy and child birth influence a woman’s blood vessels and may cause her to sweat at night and experience chills. Likewise, hormonal changes may cause these symptoms during the period that follows childbirth.

Illness commonly causes night sweats.
Illness commonly causes night sweats.

Sometimes serious conditions may be the root of these symptoms, however. For example, some types of cancer may cause them, and nerve disorders may cause them as well. Since night sweating and chills can be symptoms of a serious medical condition, a person may do well to consult a medical professional if he has unexplained symptoms for more than two weeks.

Dehydration, which can be caused by excessive drinking, can lead to headaches and night sweats.
Dehydration, which can be caused by excessive drinking, can lead to headaches and night sweats.

Even medication can sometimes cause a person to suffer from night sweats and chills. Some people experience flushing as a side effect of certain medications, including those that are injected into the body, used to treat pain, or intended to relax the muscles. Once the flushing is over and the body is left sweaty, a person may then feel chilled. Often, the sweats and chills are severe enough to wake the patient in the middle of the night.

Fever may trigger a bout of night sweats and chills.
Fever may trigger a bout of night sweats and chills.
Night sweats and chills are generally no cause for alarm.
Night sweats and chills are generally no cause for alarm.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments

KoiwiGal

In the article it says go to see the doctor if you experience two weeks or more of regular night chills and sweats.

I'd add that if you are experiencing them every single night and if they seem quite sudden and severe, just go and see your doctor as soon as possible.

This is especially true if you have other symptoms like headaches and stomach pain.

And remember to drink a lot of water. You might not realize how much fluid you are losing each night and dehydration is only going to make you feel worse.

umbra21

One really strong cure for night sweats is to drink sage tea. It is sometimes prescribed for women with menopause who are experiencing hot flashes.

It is just what it sounds like, hot water over fresh or dried sage leaves.

However, it is such a good way to stop yourself from sweating that you need to be cautious about using it. In the case of menopause, there's not harm in not sweating. But, you sweat with a fever for a reason.

Taking sage tea can hide the symptom but not cure the disease, so make sure you go and see a doctor before using it.

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